Wednesday, September 2, 2020

OAS-IACHR fight weakens inter-American human rights system (Sept. 2, 2020)

The fight between the Organization of American States (OAS) and its autonomous Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) threatens a vital tool in the region's human rights system, write José Miguel Vivanco and Tamara Taraciuk in Americas Quarterly. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro caused an unprecedented rift last week when he refused to renew the mandate of IACHR head Paulo Abrão, in response to allegations of workplace abuse.

"The inter-American human rights system has long been the last hope of victims in the region, who have often struggled unsuccessfully for years to see their rights upheld in domestic judicial systems. They deserve a regional system that can protect fundamental rights and freedoms without political interference. This essential principle is in jeopardy," write Vivanco and Taraciuk.

Critics say an OAS ombudsperson Almagro's efforts to block Abrão's renewal. People within the IACHR say ombudsperson Neida Perez colluded with Almagro, in a way that compromised her office's autonomy. (Associated Press)

News Briefs

  • Gangs directed by Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherisier killed at least 12 people and set houses on fire in Bel-Air, Port-au-Prince Monday night, reports the Haitian Times. Telesur puts the number of victims at more than 20 and said citizens took to the streets to protest against President Jovenel Moïse after the violence. (See Aug. 17's briefs.)
  • Argentina's current laws generally prohibit abortions, except for a series of exceptions, that include risk to the pregnant person's life or health and rape. But a new Human Rights Watch report documents obstacles to access legal abortion that reveal that the “exception model” currently in place is far more restrictive in practice than what is allowed under the legal system. The report is based on interviews that show how even legal abortions in Argentina are difficult or impossible to obtain. Women, health professionals, and feminist activists told Human Rights Watch that fear of legal consequences, including criminal prosecution, and stigmatization deter pregnant people from seeking—and health professionals from providing—abortions, even when requirements for an exception are met.
  • Argentine women dedicate 96 million hours a day to care work -- mostly without pay. A new report by Argentina's Economy Ministry estimates that the care economy accounts for 16 percent of the country's GDP. If unpaid domestic work were monetized, it would contribute more to Argentina's economy than the industrial sector. The ministry's Economy, Equality and Gender director, Mercedes D'Alessandro, noted how the burdens of care work, disproportionately shouldered by women, have only increased in the pandemic context -- and illustrate the need to develop policies addressing the issue.
  • Fires are proliferating in Brazil's Amazon rainforest again -- a repeat of last year's devastation -- and President Jair Bolsonaro bears ultimate responsibility, reports the Guardian. "Many fear Brazil’s leader is instead steering his country towards environmental ruin."
  • The vast majority of deforestation in the Amazon, 90 percent, is illegal. "A much more robust response is needed now to prevent the region reaching a tipping point," according to the Igarapé Institute, which makes the case that "tackling environmental crime is key to progress on climate action." Researchers teamed up with Interpol and InSight Crime to investigate deforestation, and found that illegal activities in the Amazon basin often interact in problematic ways and can have multiple environmental impacts. (ReutersWorld Economic Forum)
  • If the world warms above 2 degrees celsius, it will enter into uncharted waters, into Terra Incognita, writes Robert Muggah in the introduction to a new series of maps detailing what global warming might look like.
  • Brazilian indigenous advocates say the government has failed to protect vulnerable groups, particularly in the remote Javari Valley. (CNN, see yesterday's briefs)
  • Brazilian police said on Monday they arrested more than 400 people in a major nationwide operation targeting the PCC (First Capital Command), the country's largest organized crime group. Those arrested will be charged with money laundering, drug trafficking and directing criminal organizations from within prisons, reports Reuters.
  • Bolsonaro's increased popularity -- despite more than 120,000 Covid-19 victims -- has been in the headlines lately. (See yesterday's briefs, and last Tuesday's, for example.) Nueva Sociedad analyzes how social programs, tonal changes in the Bolsonaro camp, and errors among the opposition have contributed to Bolsonaro's surprising surge.
  • In fact, Brazil is handing out so much cash that poverty is reaching new lows, according to Bloomberg.
  • The prosecutor leading Brazil's Operation Car Wash corruption probe, Deltan Dallagnol, said he was stepping down for family reasons, reports AFP.
  • Two high-profile Venezuelan opposition leaders -- former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles and legislator Stalin Gonzalez -- are in talks with President Nicolas Maduro to participate in the upcoming legislative elections despite a planned boycott, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Squadrons of motorcycle shock groups -- "motoqueros" -- are acting in the interests of Bolivia's conservative interim government, according to human rights groups. (Vice)
  • Guyana's oil bonanza could inflame the country's ethnic divisions, warns Bloomberg.
  • The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) has approved a $400 million loan to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic for the acquisition and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. (Reuters)
  • Cuban authorities have ordered a strict 15-day lockdown of Havana in an attempt to stamp out a small but growing coronavirus contagion, reports Al Jazeera.
El Salvador
  • The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved two lines of credit to El Salvador worth $650 million in total for use in areas including education and improving access to credit, reports Reuters.
  • Colombia's Supreme Court said it will transfer its case against former president Alvaro Uribe to the attorney general's office, as Uribe resigned from his Senate post. (Al Jazeera)
  • Colombia hopes to attract foreign companies by offering tax incentives and making it easier to invest, reports Bloomberg.
  • Mexico said it had "deferred" issuing a decision over a tender for a section of the "Mayan Train" rail project, a major government infrastructure initiative in which a consortium that includes BlackRock was the sole bidder, reports Reuters.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always. 



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